In Brief

Mohammed Morsi death: supporters allege ‘state-sponsored murder’

Calls for inquiry into treatment of former Egyptian president who was on trial

Morsi trial

There have been allegations of “state-sponsored murder” after Mohammed Morsi, Egypt’s first democratically elected civilian president, collapsed and died during a court session. 

The 67-year-old was on trial for espionage charges almost six years after he was forced from power in a bloody coup. Just minutes earlier he had told the court of the “many secrets“ he harboured and could reveal.

Morsi’s lawyer, Osama El Helw, told AFP: “We heard the banging on the glass cage from the rest of the other inmates and them screaming loudly that Morsi had died.” 

State television quoted an unnamed medical source as saying Morsi had suffered a heart attack.

Mohammed Sudan, a leading member of the Muslim Brotherhood, said the former president denied medicine or visits and described Morsi's death as “premeditated murder”.

Two former ministers in the Morsi government, Amr Darrag and Yehia Hamed, said the authorities’ denial of access to medical treatment was “tantamount to state-sponsored murder”.

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared: “History will never forget those tyrants who led to his death by putting him in jail and threatening him with execution.” 

In the UK, MP Crispin Blunt, who had warned about Morsi's health, called for a “reputable independent international investigation”, and said Egypt's government had a “duty to explain his unfortunate death”.

Blunt was one of a panel of MPs who said last year that his detention “would constitute cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment,” and “could meet the threshold for torture in accordance (with) Egyptian and international law”.

Condemnation of the authorities’ treatment of Morsi has continued to be aired. Human Rights Watch said the incident was “predictable” given authorities' “failure” to provide necessary care.

Elsewhere, Wael Haddara, a former adviser, said: “We had been expecting the worst for some time.” 

“In many ways, this was the expected result of the military’s actions,” he continued. “But he was a friend, and a symbol for many Egyptians, so it’s painful.”

Amnesty International says that an investigation into Morsy's death and the conditions of his detention is an “urgent requirement”. It pointed to Egypt's “proven track record of holding prisoners in solitary confinement for long periods and in harsh conditions”.

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